. . .some of the things you suggested in your blog are known to pose a health risk to your child and family, such as co-sleeping in the same bed (lowest SIDS risk is same room /different bed), or washing cloth diapers in a household washer without appropriate temperature/soap/rinse etc. Also, it is well know that chareidi mothers choose to breastfeed at a much lower rate when they are on the government programs such as WIC, which provides free formula but not free food for nursing mothers.
Let me go in reverse order here. Regarding mothers (charedi or otherwise) who don’t nurse in order to get free formula, it is my understanding that WIC does give breastfeeding mothers more food than those it gives formula-feeding mothers. There is a new proposal to provide additional benefits and support that will encourage low-income mothers on WIC to initiate and sustain breastfeeding. Read more about it here. It’s a delicate balance; we want to encourage breastfeeding but we don’t want babies to go hungry because poor mothers choose not to, or can’t, breastfeed.
Regarding “health risks” with cloth diapers: Do you have any proof to the assertion that washing diapers at home increases illness among babies? It’s not like they are going to eat off of them, and they are not sharing the diapers with anyone else. In fact, I use the same setting — 40 degrees Celsius– for both my dishwasher and my diapers. If that setting is safe for my dishes surely it’s okay for my diapers too? The reason I use a minimum of detergent is not only to save money. It’s better for my washing machine, and when urine gets on diapers that have not been well-rinsed they stink to high heaven. I washed mine in hot water every couple of months, without detergent. Sometimes I used a white vinegar rinse. But hot water is definitely not necessary for every washing. If you regularly use a full measure of detergent in your machine, take your clothes and wash them once without detergent. You might be surprised at how many suds they generate. And there have been many questions raised regarding the safety of chemicals used in disposables.
Finally, you are correct that the AAP’s task force on SIDS recommended that babies sleep in a separate bed in their parents’ room. I don’t feel bound by their recommendation. Where babies sleep is a lifestyle choice, just like breastfeeding. The task force only looked at SIDS risk and did not consult with the AAP’s breastfeeding task force or consider other risks. To make an informed decision parents need to look at the whole picture..
I don’t believe that it is wise for parents to follow any recommendations blindly, and I don’t imagine that even the most conscientious parents do. They certainly don’t all breastfeed for at least a year, another current AAP recommendation. What if the parents don’t have space for a crib in their room? Are they going to move to a bigger house, or sleep in the living room (assuming they have space there)? In my case my not having to get out of bed, my husband continuing to sleep, the security I feel I am giving to my baby, the fact that I respond to the baby before s/he cries, shorter feedings, more sleep, the pleasure of having the baby near me all night, and an increased period of infertility, are not enough to counter a possible increased risk of SIDS that is unlikely to be backed up by future studies. Babies have accidents while sleeping in cribs, they suffocate when their mothers doze off while nursing them on the sofa in the middle of the night, and they fall when a sleepy mother is returning a baby to the crib. They can die of SIDS on their back in a crib in their parents’ room. Life is fraught with risk, and it is all about balancing risks and benefits in a way that is right for an individual family.
At any rate, here are guidelines for safe co-sleeping.